Forster, Benjamin Meggot (DNB00)

FORSTER, BENJAMIN MEGGOT (1764–1829), man of science, second son of Edward Forster the elder [q. v.] and his wife Susanna, was born in Walbrook, London, 16 Jan. 1764. He was educated with his brothers at Walthamstow, and became a member of the firm of Edward Forster & Sons, Russia merchants, but attended very little to business. During his whole life he was attached to the study of science, especially botany and electricity. He executed many fine drawings of fungi, communicated various species to Sowerby, and in 1820 published, with initials only, ‘An Introduction to the Knowledge of Fungusses,’ 12mo, pp. 20, with two plates. He contributed numerous articles to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ under various signatures and on various subjects, and is credited with eight scientific contributions to the ‘Philosophical Magazine’ in the Royal Society's Catalogue. They deal with fungi, the electric column, and atmospheric phenomena. He invented the sliding portfolio, the atmospherical electroscope, and an orrery of perpetual motion, the last being a failure. Ceaseless in his exertions in the cause of humanity, he was one of the earliest advocates of emancipation, and one of the first members of the committee of 1788 against the slave trade. He also joined the societies for the suppression of climbing chimney-sweepers, for diffusing knowledge respecting capital punishments, for affording refuge to the destitute, and for repressing cruelty to animals, he being conscientiously opposed to field sports. He also framed the child-stealing act. He never married, living with his father and mother till their death, when he took a cottage called Scotts, at Hale End, Walthamstow, where he died 8 March 1829.

&#91Gent. Mag. (1829), xcix. 279; Nichols's Illustrations, viii. 553; Epistolarium Forsterianum, vol. ii. pp. xiii–xv.]

G. S. B.